Freedom Under Fire: Journalists Assaulted by Jamshedpur Police; Maneka Wanted Reporters ‘Blacklisted’

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

File photo of Maneka Gandhi. Credit: PTI

File photo of Maneka Gandhi. Credit: PTI

Cops ‘assault’ journalists inside police station in Jamshedpur

According to an Indian Express report, more than half-a-dozen journalists and camera persons were allegedly assaulted and their equipment damaged by policemen inside the premises of Sitarampur Dera police station in Jamshedpur district late on Sunday night. The assault took place after cabinet minister Saryu Rai, came to the police station in connection with the alleged illegal detention of a man. After the minister left, journalists were trying to get pictures of the man in question.

Jamshedpur senior superintendent of police Anoop T. Matthew said: “Four policemen have been suspended with immediate effect and the OC, Jayant Tirkey, has been removed. Further action would be taken, as per inquiry report of the city SP.”

Maneka Gandhi wanted two reporters on blacklist, government said no such rule

In a highly unusual move, Gandhi sought the withdrawal of government accreditation (official recognition of journalists giving them access to the government) of two Reuters India reporters, Aditya Kalra and Andrew MacAskill, after the news agency refused to “amend or withdraw” an October 19, 2015 report headlined ‘India’s budget cuts hurt fight against malnutrition: Maneka Gandhi’, The Indian Express reports. Reuters quoted Gandhi as saying that her ministry’s budget, slashed by half to $1.6 billion, had hit her plans to strengthen the fight against malnutrition since the budget was only enough to pay salaries of 2.7 million health workers until January.

After it was publicised, the ministry “strongly refuted” the view that Gandhi’s comments constituted criticism of the PM’s policies and called Reuters interpretation “wrong and mischievous”. Her private secretary moved a letter to the information and broadcasting secretary Sunil Arora saying he had been “directed to request you to consider withdrawal of the PIB (Press Information Bureau) accreditation” of Kalra and MacAskill. The I&B ministry handed over the issue to PIB which, on March 7, said it could not take back the accreditation as the press accreditation guidelines did not contain any provision for withdrawal on grounds of “alleged misreporting or mischievous reporting”.

Citing harassment by BJP MLA, Brij University VC quits

The founding vice-chancellor of Maharaja Surajmal Brij University at Bharatpur, Rajasthan has resigned due to what he claimed was “constant harassment and pressure” from local BJP MLA Vijay Bansal, an Indian Express report says. The MLA accused the VC of administrative and financial irregularities, and a “dictatorial attitude”.

Problems between them intensified during the recruitment of a deputy registrar and two assistant registrars. “On August 23, 2015, we held a written test for the [appointments] but few days before results were to be declared, the MLA submitted a complaint to the governor’s office, while a similar complaint was submitted by the local unit of the ABVP, alleging irregularities in the test,” the VC said. After looking into the matter, the governor was “satisfied” and allowed the process to continue. “… However, the MLA declared that he will not let the results be declared and used unparliamentary language and accused me of corruption,” he added.

Drought-hit Latur gets 5 lakh litres water, courtesy 10-wagon train

According to a Hindustan Times report, a special train carrying around five lakh litres of water reached Latur in Maharashtra’s Marathwada region, that is battling the worst drought ever, on Tuesday morning.

“The first batch of 10 wagons, each with a capacity of around 50,000 litres, was filled with water at Miraj railway station in Sangli district,” said chief spokesperson of central railways, Narendra Patil.

The district administration acquired a huge well located near Latur railway station to store the water which will then be supplied to Latur town. A second train consisting of 50 wagons is expected to be ready for water loading around April 15.

Delhi government nod to resettle 43 jhuggis, new houses within 5 km radius

The Delhi government on Monday approved the resettlement of 43 jhuggi clusters, a move that is likely to bring relief to 7,000 households. Based on past experience, the government has also said that new houses should be within a 5 km radius of the old, for the convenience of residents. The government will also create a maintenance fund for the upkeep of the colonies for the first five years.

Another cop Arrested for RTI activist’s murder

According to a report in The Wire, a second Pune police inspector Namdev Sukhdev Kauthale, has been taken into custody his alleged role in RTI activist Satish Shetty’s murder. Former inspector BR Andhalkar had been arrested on April 6 for shielding the actual culprits, and Kauthale’s alleged role came out in his questioning.

Shetty was murdered by unidentified assailants wielding swords when he had stepped out of his house for a morning walk at Talegaon Dabhade town in Pune district.